Oribatid mites in soil toxicity testing—the use of Oppia nitens (C.L. Koch) as a new test species

Authors

  • Juliska I. Princz,

    Corresponding author
    1. Toxicology Group, 44 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B3, Canada
    2. Biological Methods Section, Wildlife Toxicology and Disease Division, Environment Canada, 335 River Road South, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3
    • Toxicology Group, 44 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B3, Canada.
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  • Valerie M. Behan-Pelletier,

    1. Invertebrate Biodiversity, Research Branch, Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, K.W. Neatby Building, 960 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6
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  • Richard P. Scroggins,

    1. Biological Methods Section, Wildlife Toxicology and Disease Division, Environment Canada, 335 River Road South, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3
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  • Steven D. Siciliano

    1. Toxicology Group, 44 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B3, Canada
    2. Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A8, Canada
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Abstract

Few soil invertebrate species are available for the toxic assessment of soils from boreal or other northern ecozones, yet these soils cover the majority of Canada's landmass as well as significant portions of Eurasia. Oppia nitens (C.L. Koch) is an herbivorous and fungivorous oribatid mite found in soil throughout Holarctic regions, including Canada. Soil tests using O. nitens were performed using 15 different forest soil types and horizons to investigate test variability in adult survival and reproduction. Adult survival (86.1 ± 1.1%) was consistent across soil types, with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 15%. However, reproduction varied significantly, ranging from 2.9 (±1.1) to 86.2 (±11.7) individuals, with a corresponding CV of 118 and 30%, respectively. Of the soil factors assessed (NH3, NO3, pH, phosphorus [P], organic matter content (OM), carbon:nitrogen (C:N), sand, silt, clay, and sodium adsorption ratio), soil organic matter (OM) explained 68% of the variation observed for reproduction. Increasing the OM using Sphagnum sp. peat moss resulted in optimal reproduction at 7% OM (8% peat content) with the lowest variability (CV of 20%). When assessing the toxicity of a reference chemical, boric acid, the effect of peat amendment reduced lethality to adults with no observable difference on reproduction. The use an age-synchronized culture reduced the test variability for reproduction relative to the use of unsynchronized cultures. Oppia nitens is a good candidate species for a standardized test design, with adult survival easily assessed in a relatively simple design. A long-term reproduction test with O. nitens will require the use of a synchronized population and, on occasion, OM amendment when testing soils with low organic matter content. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:971–979. © 2009 SETAC

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